Pastor Nancy Rakoczy’s Sermon for Edward Finn, Nov. 7th 2019

Good morning and welcome.

Today we remember and celebrate the life of Ed Finn.


When we look at Ed’s life, we clearly see a family man, who found fulfillment in being a husband and father. He was a pillar of his church as well, giving of his time and talents without fanfare. He was someone who always took the time to help his neighbors, with a knack for mechanical things, and always ready to lend a hand with his expertise when something needed to be fixed.

He was a quiet man.

He was a gentle man.

He was a kind man.

He was a good man.

His life and actions were always informed by his faith and love of Christ, like an underground spring of water was bubbling up into every aspect of his life. Ed is someone whose relationship with the LIVING GOD was an important part of his life, and it informed every part of his life.

God holds Ed close

As Christians, we proclaim our faith and hope in the resurrection. We heard from the Wisdom reading that “the souls of the just are in the hands of God.” We know with certain faith and hope that Ed is in God’s hands. We are certain of Christ’s promises for him as well as for us.

On one hand, we can never know everything about God, but we know that we are KNOWN by Christ in ways we can never know ourselves or the people we love the most.

And in that knowing we rest assured that God holds us close. We know that even though we are sorrowing and grieving our loss, we know that God is holding Ed close. And that Ed is reunited with his son, Daniel as well.

The Wisdom reading goes on to say that, Those who trust in God shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love.” This is a wonderful promise for all of us. When Christ draws us closer, God shares God’s self with us: God shares truth with us. God abides with us in love, which is a tremendous gift.

Christ came so that we might have a relationship with God’s own SELF. Ed is now abiding with Christ in ways that were impossible while he was on earth. Now Ed is enjoying a union with Christ, a share of the resurrection that was impossible while he was with us.

This is why Christ came. This is why Jesus came as a baby, shared humanity with us; lived, suffered, took the cross out of love for all of us, in order to defeat death on our behalf. Ed is experiencing the fullness of joy and love being in Christ’s presence.

St. Paul says: “Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? . . .

thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

            Christ’s victory is OUR victory. Christ’s resurrection is OUR resurrection. THIS is the LOVE that the Son shares with US. When Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

No one comes to the Father except through me,” he is extending a LIFE-GIVING hand to us, throwing us a life preserver, showing us how to live our one, precious life. Christ offers us an unparalleled relationship, so that we MAY LIVE fully.

When we have a relationship with Christ, he shows us through his Word, through our gathering together at communion, through community, Christ shows us the WAY to live in peace, in love. Christ lives inside us to SHOW us how to live. Eternal life begins NOW, now while we live. Christ IS TRUTH; he is the walking, speaking truth, walking down a path in full humanity, and he offers US a relationship deeply based in TRUTH. A relationship with Christ gives us freedom, MORE life, LESS fear, less anger, more life when we abide in him.

Ed’s talents

Ed’s ministry to St. John is legendary. He may have been an unassuming man, but he had an impact on all of us. He would quietly do the acts of mercy, such as feeding the hungry. He was a faithful and dependable driver who would take the food cooked by the INN volunteers, and drive to Uniondale to the New Life Center. It was his way to help feed hungry people of the community. I heard about his pancakes on Reformation Sunday. His quiet acts of mercy had a ripple effect on those who received his care, and those who worked with him. I was told he could fix anything, and his neighbors would marvel at his handyman skills and learn from him.

I heard a story about Ed at the wake yesterday. A family member would tell him something needed fixing. Ed had a key to the house. He would let himself in. He’d fix what needed fixing. There would be a sandwich for him; he’d eat the sandwich, put the plate in the sink, and let himself out. All very quietly done with no fanfare.

He was the one who would lock up the church at the end of services on Sunday. He put the windows in the parsonage. Whenever I open or shut a window, I think of him, and say thank you, Ed. In his gentle and unassuming way, Ed put his mark on this church and his community.

I’ve visited the home of Ed and Bunny, and can attest to the serenity of the home they had made together. Bunny has said to me that they rarely argued.”

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” Christ is God’s love revealed to us; Scripture is the story of God’s love for humanity, yet there is so much we don’t know about God.

We still have questions. Maybe when we are reunited with Christ we won’t even CARE about our questions anymore. Maybe we’ll be LOST in adoration and the GLORY of God. FAITH informs our lives. Faith TRANSFORMS our lives. Our faith tells us that we can TRUST God’s promises. Our faith leads us into paths of God’s making, not of our design or planning.

Yet, the only reason we have faith is because it is GOD who is faithful. What faith we have is God’s gift to us. And with the gift of faith, we look at the world with different eyes and we look at eternity as something Christ will share with us. We know we can put ourselves into God’s hands, because it is God who is faithful and can be trusted. As much as we would like to know more about God, God is the ONE who knows US. God is the One who believes in US. God is the One into whom we can and do put our trust.

We ask ourselves as Christians, what do we hope for? In whom do we hope?

Our hope is in the living Christ, the one who saves us through his cross and resurrection, and who has set us free.                              

                        At St. Paul the Apostle church near Columbus Circle in Manhattan, there is a large painting of the apostle, Paul, and you can see he is about to die. He is kneeling on the ground and looking up to heaven. The executioner stands behind him.

By this point, Paul has had many adventures: shipwrecks, imprisonments, and prison escapes; once he escaped in a large basket that was dropped outside a wall.

He’s preached the good news of Christ, written many epistles; he’s exhorted people to stay on the right path and follow Christ who is the WAY;  he healed people, he’s encouraged people through his letters; he’s lived a full life. Under the painting are these words: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Those words are the emblem of a full life: fought, finished and kept.

            Ed, too, lived a full life – full of family happiness and sorrows, too. Church events and bowling with his buddies. I don’t know if Ed did much fighting, but he has finished his race, and he has certainly kept the faith.

There is something about Ed that just sparkles. Jesus said he came to give life so we could have it in abundance. We are here to testify to the full and abundant life that Ed had and shared WITH us, one in which he kept the faith and finished the race.

            We say God speed to you, Ed.

            We will miss you.

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind be at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face

the rains fall soft upon your fields,

and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

We release our brother, Ed, to your mighty keeping, O Lord.

Rest in peace, Ed.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.